Often mistaken for the Jack Russell Terrier, the Parson Russell Terrier is actually its own, distinct breed, and has been recognized as such since 2003. First developed in Southern England in the 1800s, the Parson Russell was bred to help foxhounds hunt down foxes. As such, they are smart, independent thinkers, capable of solving problems on their own. The Parson Russell Terrier is ranked 117th out of 193 breeds by the American Kennel Club.
The Parson Russell Terrier got its name from John “The Sporting Parson” Russell, the man who created the breed. He was a hunting enthusiast, and he wanted to create a new breed that could keep up with his horses; thus, the PRT was born. It is a smaller dog, but exceedingly confident and playful. The PRT is a very flexible breed, capable of adapting to just about any family and lifestyle.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PARSON RUSSELL TERRIER
Here are some additional details about the appearance and the temperament of the Parson Russell.
The Parson Russell Terrier is classified by the AKC as a medium dog; well-balanced in height and length, they can reach 14 inches in height and usually fall between 13 and 17 lbs. They are a lean, agile breed, possessing an impressive combination of strength and endurance.
They have a keen, wondering expression – when they gaze at you, they often look as if they’re deep in thought. They have a black nose and are often heavily whiskered with a small beard.
A distinctive quality of the PRT is their outer coat – there are two types: smooth, which is flat and hard, or broken, which has a tight, straight look. Both coat types are harsh and dense with a natural look, suggesting ample protection from the elements. Their coat is predominantly white, often with black and/or tan markings. Since the hair is so short and dense, minimal grooming is required – occasional brushing with a firm brush is more than adequate.
Parson Russell Terriers are clever and independent. Due to their history as fox hunters, they are swift, bold, and athletic. They thrive on action – take them with you on all your adventures. They have a lot of energy, and if left to their own devices, their curiosity will lead them to explore, wander, chase, and dig. They are vocal and can develop a bit of a barking issue, so it’s important to set boundaries early.
PRTs are also very friendly. At home, they will be playful, affectionate, and confident. They tend to do really well with children and strangers. They can occasionally be shy, particularly around other dogs; it’s important to socialize them with other dogs early on. They are also great with horses, though not as much with cats and other, smaller pets.
Owing to their high energy levels, Parson Russell Terriers are best suited for busy, adventurous families, but they are very adaptable and can also do well with active seniors. Their average life expectancy is 13-15 years, so expect to have your companion with you for a while. Due to their smart, independent nature, they can occasionally be slightly stubborn. They rarely exhibit aggression, particularly if they’ve been properly socialized.
CARING FOR A PARSON RUSSELL TERRIER
Understanding the needs of your Parson Russell Terrier will help you maintain an excellent, healthy relationship with your dog. Here is some helpful information about their nutritional, exercise, training and health needs.
Due to their high energy levels, Parson Russell Terriers require high quality, protein-rich diets. Feeding them a good dry food twice a day is suggested; meats, like beef, poultry, and lamb make excellent supplements to their daily diet. However, as with all small breeds, they can easily become overweight if you’re not careful. Monitor their diets and weight closely. Treats are an important part of training, but be careful to not give too many. Consult with your vet to see which foods are best for your PRT.
Parson Russell Terriers are playful, fun-loving and full of life. They were bred for their high energy and hunting skill, so they require significant daily exercise to maintain health and happiness. They should generally be kept on-leash when outdoors due to their strong prey-chasing instincts. Their curious, inquisitive nature lends well to long walks through unexplored areas, allowing them to smell every nook and cranny in sight. Watch out for fleas, though!
Their daily exercise routine should consist of a long walk, or perhaps a high-energy game, plus some training. Alternatively, a healthy amount of exercise in the backyard can go a long way as well. This is not a dog for someone with a sedentary lifestyle. Large open spaces are ideal for a PRT. A tired, well-exercised dog is a happy dog.
Basic obedience training and puppy classes are beneficial for every dog, and the Parson Russell Terrier is no different. Their intelligent, fun-loving nature lends itself well to learning tricks. However, remember that they are very high-energy, and they tend to get bored quickly, so keep training sessions short and stimulating. Training a PRT necessitates a calm, even voice and a great sense of humor. Smart, independent dogs require a consistent, patient leader. They respond well to both praise and treats. They are also great for canine sports, such as agility training and nose work.
Parson Russell Terriers are often very healthy dogs. Make sure to select a competent breeder who tests for issues such as loose kneecaps, deafness, and standard eye issues such as cataracts. Also, since this is a smaller dog breed, standard small-dog issues like Legg Perthes can also arise. Learn the signs and symptoms of these ailments so you can recognize them early on.